When I first started homeschooling, I tried to recreate school at home, complete with schedules, textbooks, binders, you get the picture. Suffice it to say, that didn’t last long. I should have known, since the main reason why we decided to homeschool is because my oldest son is a bit too wiggly for traditional schooling.
So, that’s when I started researching about different homeschool philosophies. There are a ton out there, and we decided to try out unschooling for a year after my youngest was born. My kids absolutely loved the freedom to explore their interests, but for me it felt too unstructured.
Going from one extreme to the next may seem like a lot to take in, and it was, but it helped me to quickly find a middle ground that suited both my children’s learning styles and my teaching style.
I am not a planner in the traditional sense. Yes, I make a t-chart with a daily list of things that need to get done in my bullet journal (which went from beautifully lettered to utilitarian in less than a year), but I don’t schedule things out by time and I don’t fret if something doesn’t get checked off. It just gets rolled over to tomorrow. No biggie.
I do however prescribe to backwards planning. This was something I used to do when I taught middle school, but in much more detail than I do now. I would look at the big picture and loosely map out the year of what our learning would look like based on our goals. I don’t go into details, but rather plan the week before we start our 6-week session. I, also, do this when it comes to my own personal goals. It helps me get a basic idea of what I want to accomplish in a year, but allows for flexibility to accomplish those goals.
- Science – Life – Animal and Plant – Divide into four 6-week sessions
- History – Ancient Civilizations – Egypt, Greece, Rome, China – four 6-week sessions
- Math – Beast Academy 2A-D – Divide into eight to ten 6-week sessions
- Language Arts – Handwriting, Typing, Writing, Reading – Daily, 6-week chunks
So, you’re probably wondering what’s up with the 6-week sessions. Six weeks is usually about the time we start to lose steam for whatever topic we’re studying. The end of six weeks is also about the time when the kids and I need an extended mental health break. So, we’ve decided to homeschool year-around in 6 weeks on, 1-2 weeks off chunks of time.
It works for us. It allows us to travel, visit family and friends, hang out at the beach for a week, or just stay home and get caught up on all the tasks that get left aside during schooling. It’s a kind of reset that allows us to start the next 6 weeks fresh and revitalized.
Another way we find time for mental health is to take Fridays off, which means we only school four days a week. Once we started doing this, I found the kids to be more productive during the week and our weekends became more relaxing allowing me to accomplish my personal goals. I’m not good at waking up before the kids to get some writing in, and at night I’d rather be binge watching Netflix or reading a good book than work.
Our typical school day routine looks like the following (not including enrichment classes, because those vary on availability and season):
- Morning time read aloud (history, science, picture books)
- Daily work – handwriting, spelling, typing
- Science or History (depending on what 6-week session we’re on)
- Evening time read aloud (novel)
If we run out of time, whatever we didn’t get to just gets rolled over to tomorrow. In the afternoons, the kids are free to explore their own interests. The big kid likes to make YouTube videos, the little kid enjoys gardening and building things, and the toddler is usually taking a nap. Reading is done at bedtime after I read aloud a chapter from a novel. The kids can stay up late if they are reading, but sometimes they will choose to read during the day, especially if they get a new book they’re excited about.
As you can see, our homeschool routine is quite simple and very relaxed. I see my kids thriving, and I feel like I’m getting enough time for myself. We:
- Backwards plan
- 6-week sessions
- 4-day homeschool week
- Simple daily routine allowing for flexibility and personal interests
What routines have you incorporated into your homeschooling?